The southern Namib Desert is a hyper-arid zone lying between the interior’s escarpment and the Atlantic coast of Namibia. A vast treeless erg, a sea of shifting sand occupies much of the desert, but there are a number of mountain ranges, too, and several drainage systems that lie dormant for years on end. Four distinct habitats are found on the NamibRand Nature Reserve: dunes and sandy plains, inselbergs and mountains, gravel plains, and sand and gravel plains interface. Each habitat has its own dominant vegetation and associated flora.
In this landscape, sparse strands of camelthorn trees Acacia erioloba survive from episodes of high rainfall, and the most characteristic large mammal of the southern Namib, the oryx Oryx gazella, migrates between escarpment and desert in search of pasture and water.
The latest game census in June 2017 indicated that there were 10325 oryx and 3243 springbok on the Reserve (figures include the Pro-Namib Conservancy). Game numbers fluctuate from year to year, depending on rainfall in the area. The highest number of springbok was recorded in 2006, with a total count of 17 900. Other large mammals include kudu, Hartman’s and Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok, hartebeest and baboon. Predators include leopard, spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, African wildcat, caracal and genet. To date more than 150 bird species have been identified, while work is still in progress on the inventory of rodents, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and plants.